how much money do hermit crabs cost?

How Much Do Hermit Crabs Cost? (Tank Setup + Monthly Expenses)

You’ll need to provide a 5-20 gallon tank with 3-4 inches of substrate and carefully maintain its humidity levels. Hermit crabs also need a variety of shells to choose from as they won’t like every option they’re given. They can’t be housed alone and need at least one other companion, with 3-5 hermies in total being ideal. While not cheap to own, the good news is, hermit crabs are comparatively inexpensive pets to keep.

Hermit crabs can cost anywhere between $5 and $40 to buy each. The tank will cost from $20 to $100. To fill it, you’ll need about $70-$100 worth of substrate, shells, salt, heating pads, humidity controllers, and other items. The food itself rarely costs more than $10 a month, and as low as $3. Once you’ve paid the upfront costs of getting hermit crabs as pets, you can expect to pay $13-$31 a month.

If you round up the figures, you will spend $180-$420 a year on your hermit crabs. This gives you leeway of about $24-$48 to account for surprise expenses. Since hermit crabs may live for up to 30 years, you should expect the costs to be ongoing. Even still, hermies are among the least expensive pets you can own, coming in unique colors, sizes, and with fun habits.

How Much Money Do Hermit Crabs Cost?

If you want to buy a hermit crab, there will be upfront costs and long-term expenses. They are inexpensive pets that don’t eat much with relatively simple care needs once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics.

However, new owners must be aware that hermit crabs should never be kept alone. While you may see them kept in enclosures by themselves, this is unkind to these relatively social creatures. Instead, you should keep several hermies at once.

Your expenses will scale up accordingly. The good news is that even keeping 3-5 hermit crabs won’t swell the costs by much. That’s because the expense remains the same for 1 hermie or 5 hermies when it comes to:

  • Housing
  • Supplies
  • Climate control
  • Water dechlorinators

Your budget will only need to flex a little. That’s because a greater number of hermies will only require you to invest more in:

  • Food
  • Shells
  • The cost of the hermit crabs themselves

Even this should only increase the price by $15-40 in total. The prices can range by a wide margin, sure, depending on the type of hermit crab it is and where you buy it. However, the threshold is still low at between $0.59 and $30.

What Do Different Hermit Crabs Cost?

Hermit crabs are not expensive to buy. Some of the most popular include:

  • Blueberry Hermit Crabs: This species is native to Japan and costs around $25.
  • Strawberry Hermit Crabs: These are native to the Indo-Pacific and are much more expensive, at $19.99 to $39.99 per crab. That’s credit to their bright, almost pink coloring.
  • Indo Hermit Crabs: This type costs around $9.99 to $14
  • Ecuadorian Hermit Crabs: One of the most popular species of all, you can find these between  $9.99 to $14.99
  • Atlantic Hermit Crabs: This one comes cheaper to buyers in the U.S. They will cost from $4.99 to $9.99, depending on how big they are.

Of course, these prices will vary depending on several factors. Before you choose your ideal hermie, consider:

how much does it cost to care for a hermit crab?

Species

Hermit crabs come in over 800 species, but very few are kept as pets. Most hermies dwell in the ocean, but only about 12 live exclusively on land and only visit the water occasionally. There is only one freshwater hermie, the clibanarius fonticola. Most others are harmed by freshwater.

Not many species of hermit crab are rare or endangered, so you won’t have difficulty getting these pets. The price may just go up if it’s a less commonly traded hermie, or if it needs to live in a very specific environment.

Where They’re From

Of all these kinds, you can find hermies with different colors, habitats, and personalities. They hail from all around the world, including:

  • The Caribbean
  • South America, mostly around Ecuador
  • The United States
  • The Pacific Islands
  • Eastern parts of Asia as a whole

If your pet hermit crabs are imported from a far-away region, they may be more expensive. Likewise, if they come from a more isolated locale, such as with certain Pacific Island hermies, the cost will increase.

If you’re not particular about an exotic hermit crab, many are common pets and have an abundant population, found easily in pet stores. For example, the Caribbean hermit crab and the Ecuadorian hermit crab are the two most popular to keep. You can find them for as little as $5.

Their Size

This will be the most deciding factor in the cost of your hermit crabs. The smaller they are, the more cheaply they are sold. That’s because they eat less, require smaller enclosures, and don’t need large, expensive shells.

You may enjoy the aesthetics and personality of the larger hermit crabs. However, if you want to keep several hermies and don’t want to get a larger tank, the small varieties will be ideal.

The Number You Buy

Some pet stores are happy to sell hermit crabs in bulk. This can help you drop the cost overall, should you wish to keep several hermies. For example, land-dwelling blueberry hermit crabs cost around $25. However, if you buy a dozen in bulk, they can be $239.99 or around $20 each. This is usually the case in chain pet stores, such as Petco.

Just keep in mind that you must choose your vendor wisely. Stay away from pet stores that don’t take good care of their hermit crabs. This will be most obvious when they’re overcrowded in a small tank.

Likewise, watch out for hermit crabs with painted shells, as the paint can end up poisoning them. Even if it seems fun to own a bedazzled hermit crab, the glue can also be damaging. Leave the embellishments to nature.

How Much Money Does A Hermit Crab Tank Cost?

The tank will likely be the most expensive part of owning hermit crabs. In general, you can expect a hermit crab tank to cost anywhere from $17.99 to $35.99. Of course, this pricing will vary depending on:

  • How big your hermit crabs are
  • How many you intend on housing
  • How many decorations you want to include
  • How deep your substrate needs to be

A 30-gallon tank is great for 3-5 hermit crabs, but a 10-gallon tank will only fit one or two. The tank doesn’t need to be very tall, but it should leave room for 3-4 inches of sand. Hermies use this to burrow when they feel crowded, threatened, or when they need to molt. Some will also rest under the substrate to sleep.

Bigger and better quality tanks can cost up to $100. However, it’s not really necessary to spend that much. Glass, acrylic, or even plastic are all good options. Your hermit crabs aren’t usually escape artists, and if they’re a terrestrial variety, the enclosure won’t need to be water-tight. Even still, be sure to get a lid for your tank. It will be necessary to:

  • Maintain the temperature and humidity needed for your hermit crabs
  • Prevent dust, bugs, or even sprayed air freshener from invading the tank
  • Keep interested children or pets from bothering the hermies

How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Hermit Crab Tank?

A hermit crab tank should not be left empty with only your hermies inside. Although they’re not very active pets, they still require substrate, a heating pad, water and food dishes, and shells.

You can elect to buy decorations and plants to keep them happy, but these are optional. In general, those two electives cost between $1 and up to $40 apiece.

Substrate

Your tank should ideally be filled with sand. Owners may choose to use other substrates, but sand will replicate a hermit crab’s natural habitat and make it feel at home. Sand also helps your hermit crabs modify their body temperature, molt, and burrow out of sight when frightened.

Substrates cost between $2.50 and $36, depending on the kind you get. Playground sand is an option, as is aquarium sand. Just be sure to go for larger grains, as fine sand can get stuck in a hermie’s shell. It will then cause irritation to its exoskeleton and even result in illnesses.

Shells

Hermit crabs will change shells multiple times throughout their lives. According to the Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, hermit crabs do so very easily because they’re not physically attached to it.

This shell-swap is necessary as they grow, as they will no longer fit in their previous shells. It’s also one of their most intriguing habits, and they appear to enjoy the fun of choosing new homes. Because of this, be sure to provide your hermits with multiple shells to choose from.

Although you can look for new shells at the beach, there are risks involved. That’s why most owners prefer to buy them at pet stores or online. Costs usually range from $2.99 to $4.99. You can even buy a small collection, so this will lower the overall expense.

According to the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, hermit crabs look for very specific traits when deciding if a shell is right for them. If you only give them one, they may not like it. Be sure to buy your hermies several. As a plus, the leftovers can be interesting decorations.

Food and Water Dish

A puddle in the sand and food loosely spread across the tank won’t do. Food and water dishes will keep your tank clean and ensure your hermit crabs have easy access. If you want a unique style that fits the terrarium setting, food dishes will be about $15.99. Meanwhile, a water dish should be cheaper at around $7.

With that said, you can technically use any small bowl or plate for either. Just make sure your hermie won’t struggle to access the food and water inside.

Water

Freshwater is dangerous to most hermit crabs species. If you want the pets to have water to drink or play in, you will need to:

  • Add the correct amount of salt
  • Dechlorinated water so it’s safe for them to drink

A dechlorinator is a one-time purchase. It should cost you anywhere from $3.50 to $70, depending on the model you get. For the salt, 10 gallons of aquarium-standard salt is usually around $11-$12. That supply should last 4 months.

Humidity

If you have a land-dwelling hermit crab, it will need a specific level of humidity to remain healthy and happy. The ideal range will be a minimum of 70% humidity.

You may need to carefully balance the heat of the tank and the water levels to create this, which is free. To test this, you should at least buy a humidity gauge, which costs around $5-$10.

If you want more specific results (and less effort) you can invest in a misting system or fogger. This will cost between $11-50, depending on the brand you choose. Some offer more precise control, while others simply get the job done and require more upkeep as a result. 

Heating Pads

If you live somewhere cold in the winter, it’s worth purchasing a heating pad, as hermit crabs do not like the cold. This may also be necessary to help maintain the right humidity levels. Heating mats usually cost about $15-$20.

How Much Does Hermit Crab Food Cost?

Hermit crabs don’t eat much, and their diet isn’t complicated, but it must be specific. Overall, hermit crabs should be fed pellets and fresh vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.

Formulated hermit crab pellets can be bought at pet stores for between $3.50 and $5.99 a jar. This will be the main diet. For fresh food as treats and supplements, the cost will depend on where you shop and what’s in season, but the main options include:

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Mangos
  • Apples
  • Coconut
  • Papaya
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

The initial food you buy won’t cost more than $10-$20 in total. Once you’re stocked up, it’s far cheaper to replenish the food as you go. As mentioned, the appetite of hermit crabs is small, so long-term costs won’t be high.

Hermit Crab Monthly Cost

Beyond the initial costs of buying, supplying, and feeding hermit crabs, you must consider the recurring costs. Hermit crabs won’t impact your monthly expenses like a cat or dog might, but it deserves a place in your budget. Here’s what you can expect to pay month-on-month as a hermit crab owner.

Food Cost

Hermit crabs are very low maintenance and quiet pets. Purchasing the dechlorinator will ensure that water costs are rather non-existent. Food to keep your hermies pleased shouldn’t cost more than $10 per month in total.

Many of the fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds could already be found in your kitchen. Sharing a few pieces with your hermies may go virtually unnoticed, price-wise. They also enjoy odds and ends, like strawberry tops, bits of lettuce, and the chopped-off ends of tomatoes. You can also buy whatever produce is on sale, as they don’t need a specific ratio of veggies to fruit to seeds and nuts.

The hermit crab pellets are more specific, but may cost as little as $3. The jar will need to be replaced every few weeks, depending on:

  • The number of hermit crabs you own
  • Their size
  • Where they are in their growth cycle

Tank Cost

The tank, decorations, plants, dechlorinator, and water or food bowls won’t need replacing monthly. In fact, they may last for years or even decades at a time. However, once every 30-60 days (depending on the number of hermit crabs you own), you should replace the substrate. This will come up to $2.50 or $36 at each purchase, depending on:

  • The kind of substrate you use
  • How big your tank is.

On a more infrequent basis, you will need to buy additional salt for your hermit crabs’ water. As mentioned, this should be around $11-$12 every 4 months.

Total Cost

If you add all these prices together, it ranges from $13-$31. This number depends on:

  • The exact price of your fresh food
  • How much salt you buy
  • If you buy high-grade substrate

If you’re able to purchase some items in bulk, take advantage of sales, or use items on hand, this may even go down. There could be one-off purchases in there, though, like a new light bulb for the tank. This could tack another $3-5 on every few months, but will be hardly noticeable month-to-month.

how much does hermit crab food cost?

How Much Does A Hermit Crab Cost Per Year?

Hermit crabs have impressive lifespans for their size, living for up to 30 years. This largely depends on how well they’re cared for, and how well designed their environment is. You’ll need to account for long-term costs with this pet, especially if you want to be a good owner.

As we calculated above, hermit crabs are likely to cost you between $13 and $31 per month. You can round that up to $15 and $35 for some leeway. If you multiply that by 12 months, a safe bet is to spend between $180-$420 per year on your hermit crabs.

Of course, you may also need to buy a whole new tank for whatever reason. Since rounding up the costs gives you breathing room of $24-$48, that may account for it.

However, the surprise costs may go slightly above this. It’s unlikely to ever peek above $500 in total to own hermit crabs for a year. 

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Hermit Crab?

Hermit crabs are one of the least costly pets you can find. However, knowing how much to expect when paying both upfront and over time is important. Based on the information above, let’s take a look at the costs you can expect when getting a hermit crab.

 UpfrontOngoing
Hermit Crab$1-$30No ongoing costs after purchase
Food and Treats$10-$20$10 per month
Tank and Lid$15-$40No ongoing purchase for the tank structure
Tank Supplies (substrate, water dish, shells, salt, dechlorinator, etc.)Around $60-$100 for everything you’ll need for setup$15-$40 per month and depending on what you need to replace/refill

Hermit crabs make low-cost, low-maintenance pets. They’re ideal for people who want interesting creatures that will keep you company, but that won’t be too demanding on your time and budget.